Producers’ Peanuts celebrates centennial milestone

Published 9:00 am Friday, March 29, 2024

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Suffolk, Virginia —Producers Peanut Company, Inc. is in party mode as it celebrates 100 years of service to the community and beyond. Along with its Peanut Kids brand natural peanut butters, PPC has supplied peanut butter and granulated peanuts, as well as branded and private label retail, food service, and much more, to many customers in 26 countries.

Producers Peanut Company President and CEO James R. Pond, Jr., details the company’s history. He says the business became official with the state on Feb. 27, 1924.

“It was actually not my family, it was three individuals that were associated [with] the peanut industry. And later, my grandfather needed a business that was more involved in the finished product and since he owned Pond Brothers Shelling, he and [W. T. Pond. Sr.] owned that company, so they by whatever mechanism… they must have convinced the three other gentlemen that had this company to sell it. And that’s when my family got into it.”

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Pond says that while the date of his family’s involvement is “fuzzy”, he believes it to be around late 1925 or 1926. 

“We export, we also manufacture retail, foodservice and also do custom work for confections such as bakeries. At one time or another, you’ve probably eaten my product, you just didn’t know it,” Pond says humorously. “We ship nationwide and again, we do ship to several different countries over in Europe as well as the Pacific Rim.”

Pond says he started the export side of PPC during the 1990s, to which he recalls his father being “very hesitant.”

“…He thought that export was only reserved for very, very large companies, because it was just too expensive,” Pond said. 

However, Pond says that his background wasn’t originally in peanuts but instead in the avionics division of the Bendix Corporation, where he flew airplanes as a Field Service Engineer. Pond says that while working there, he learned the importance of a good reputation and word of mouth in an area where businesses are coming to collaborate with other companies on their own.

“I picked that up from actually working at Bendix – that’s how Bendix grew by word of mouth, you didn’t see advertising, like you do with RCA and Honeywell and some of the other bigger corporations. They grew by reputation. And because of that, when I was working for them, they owned 70 percent of the world’s radar, simply by word of mouth,” Pond said. “And so I applied that here and just scaled it down from a large company to a smaller company, and it worked.”

Pond says that he has no problem with being a hidden gem within the City of Suffolk.

“We’re not [in] the limelight, we’re not on the big board, we’re not on the stock exchange, most people probably in the city have no idea what we do and that’s ok,” Pond said. “I would just assume to have it that way, I’m not looking for a lot of the limelight like others do.”

Pond says the team is gearing up for a company-wide party to celebrate 100 years of PPC. Regarding the company’s future and business model, Pond says it should “stick to what works.”

“It’s not perfect, it needs massaging every once in a while, but it has worked. I don’t really try to compete with anybody. I’m just looking for business just like anybody else,” Pond said.

Likewise, Pond expressed that the reason for PPC’s success is the staff who clock in day-to-day and help get the job done.

“It’s the people that work [here], it’s about teamwork,” Pond said. “Teamwork makes the dream work.”


Editor’s note: Updated first quote at 7:17 p.m., Saturday, March 30 to reflect accuracy.